Medford family devastated by baby's death, hoping to create awar - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Medford family devastated by baby's death, hoping to create awareness

MEDFORD (WAOW) - "When you know that your child isn't going to live, you learn to take every second and cherish it."

Those are the words of a Medford mother, sharing her story of grief and loss, hoping it can save others.

Alyssa Linsmeyer and Douglas Branowitzer lost their daughter just 25 minutes after she was born. Now, they want to create awareness about the serious birth defect that took her life.

It was last August when Linsmeyer found out she was pregnant with her second child.

"We were excited that our son was going to have a sibling," said Linsmeyer.

On Christmas Eve, she found out it was a girl. But the day after Christmas, she found out this wouldn't be a normal pregnancy.

"The doctor just kept on saying this word and I didn't understand what it was," said Linsmeyer.

That word was anencephaly. Before that day, Linsmeyer had never heard of it. But that was what her daughter was diagnosed with.

"It was something where the skull didn't form and she was missing the back part of her skull. Because of that, she was also missing part of her brain," said Linsmeyer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one in every 4,859 babies in the U.S. will be born with anencephaly. Almost all will die shortly after birth.

On February 28, at 29 weeks, Hallie Viola Branowitzer was born.

"She had these little chubby cheeks. And perfect hands. Perfect fingers," said Linsmeyer.

Hallie lived for just 25 minutes.

"All that she knew was love in this world and that's amazing," said Linsmeyer.

Now Hallie's family wants her memory to live on.

They want people to know about this defect. They're working with Duke University to research it by sending blood samples from themselves and from Hallie.

"Even though it's nothing that could change the outcome of what happened to our daughter, but maybe we can help someone else in the future," said Linsmeyer. "Maybe someone else won't have to go through this, won't have to lose their child."

They hope someday scientists will find the cause and the cure to save babies like Hallie.

"Even though she wasn't here very long, she made a difference," said Linsmeyer.

Hallie's family will be holding a benefit to raise awareness about this birth defect on Saturday in Medford. The event is at Sport's Page Bar and Grill and begins at 2 p.m.

The family says money raised there will help pay for medical and funeral costs. They also plan to make a donation to research.

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